UN leader says that escalation will bring ‘immense suffering’ to civilians and warns of potential regional escalation.
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has said that humanitarian aid deliveries to Gaza are “completely inadequate” amid deteriorating conditions within the Gaza Strip.
In a statement on Tuesday, Guterres reiterated that humanitarian need in Gaza is far outpacing existing levels of assistance. Aid trucks have been trickling into Gaza from Egypt over the past week via Rafah, the main crossing that does not border Israel.
Prior to the war, some 500 trucks carrying aid and other goods entered Gaza every day.
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said on Tuesday that 66 trucks of humanitarian assistance entered Gaza in the last 24 hours. Officials would like to reach up to 100 a day, Kirby said.
Guterres also voiced concern over military escalation as Israel steps up ground raids in Gaza and continues to bombard the besieged territory.
“I am deeply alarmed by the intensification of the conflict between Israel and Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups in Gaza,” Guterres said.
“With too many Israeli and Palestinian lives already lost, this escalation only increases the immense suffering of civilians.”
Gaza a ‘graveyard for thousands of children’
The comments come as Israel continues its relentless bombardment of Gaza, overwhelming hospitals that are inundated with the wounded and stretched to the breaking point by an Israeli siege that has severely restricted supplies of water, fuel, and electricity.
Palestinian authorities have said that more than 8,500 people have been killed in Gaza, more than a third of them children, since the war erupted on October 7.
In a statement on Tuesday, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) spokesperson James Elder said Gaza has become “a graveyard for thousands of children”.
An Israeli air raid on Tuesday levelled an entire section of the Jabalia refugee camp, killing scores of people and injuring more than 100 others, according to the Gaza health ministry. The director of the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza told Al Jazeera that more than 50 people were killed.
Nebal Farsakh, a spokesperson from the Palestine Red Crescent Society, called the situation “absolutely horrific”.
“Hospitals are already overwhelmed, and they barely can deal with the increasing number of casualties they are dealing with every single hour,” Farsakh told Al Jazeera.
“[They] are working on full capacity. This comes at the same time all hospitals are literally collapsing due to shortages [of] medical supplies as well as medicines, and they are running out of fuel, which is urgently needed”.
Speaking before the UN Security Council on Tuesday, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi urged the council to push for a ceasefire in order to end a “spiral of death”.
The United States has thus far backed Israel and rejected calls for a ceasefire, saying that an end in the fighting would benefit Hamas, which carried out a deadly attack on southern Israel on October 7 that Israeli authorities say killed more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians.
“We do believe that we have to consider things like humanitarian pauses to make sure that assistance can get to those who need it and people can be protected and get out of harm’s way,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a congressional hearing.
Speaking last week, Guterres called the small amounts of aid being allowed into Gaza from the Rafah crossing with Egypt “a drop of aid in an ocean of need”.